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Health risks do not stop at national borders

A WHO staff member decontaminating a wooden hut in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

A WHO staff member decontaminating a wooden hut in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, © zReportage.com via ZUMA Wire

25.10.2019 - Article

Global environmental change is having an impact on the health of many people around the world. Experts are convening at a conference at the Federal Foreign Office to discuss the international security implications of this development, as well as possible mitigation strategies.

Transnational health threats such as outbreaks of Ebola and increased antimicrobial resistance are affecting political stability around the globe. More and more changes to the environment, including anthropogenic climate change, increase these risks and call for even greater international cooperation.

To promote networking among international health and environment experts, the Federal Foreign Office is today (25 October) hosting the One Planet, One Health, One Future conference, which it has co-organised with the Wildlife Conservation Society. “Health risks,” Niels Annen, Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office, said in his opening address at the conference, “do not stop at national borders. They have severe economic and social consequences, and they can pose a threat to the political stability of entire regions.”

Climate change as a health issue and a multilateral challenge

Climate change in particular is one of the most fundamental changes currently impacting the world’s environment. The effects of climate change are complex and interlinked with other developments, such as the loss of biodiversity, water scarcity and the increased spread of infectious diseases.

No country in the world will be able to solve these problems alone. What is needed, therefore, is multilateral action and the development of a comprehensive concept of security that takes into account the impact of environmental changes on global health, and therefore also on international security. Interdisciplinary exchange and close networking between politics and science are key to developing forward-looking and sustainable foreign policy.

The health of humans, animals and ecosystems are inseparably linked

Well-functioning ecosystems and effective measures to mitigate climate change also improve human health. That is why experts from such a wide variety of disciplines, such as politics, medicine, biology and climate research are attending the One Planet, One Health, One Future conference, with the aim of finding solutions.

To this end, some 30 scientists have drawn up the so-called Berlin Principles that are to be adopted at the conference. The Principles call on science and politicians to recognise the connections between human, animal and ecosystem health, with a view to fighting climate change and taking joint action.

For more information:

World Health Organization (WHO)

Wildlife Conservation Society Health Program (WCS)

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